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Actin Subunits Bound With Actin Depolymerization Factor

Two actin (a protein) subunits (grey/green) bound with actin depolymerization factor

Actin (shown in green and black) is a protein that assembles into long filaments (in a process called polymerization) in the cell, and is important for cell structure, among other things. Shown in yellow is a protein called actin depolymerization factor (ADF). By binding to actin filaments in specific locations, ADF can cause actin filaments to break apart (depolymerize). The rough surface is showing the regions on actin which bind (interact) with ADF, and in red are regions which experiments have demonstrated to be important for ADF and actin to bind together.

The fundamental processes by which individual actins connect with each other to form filaments and, in turn, break apart have been linked to certain cancers. Using TeraGrid resources at the Texas Advanced Computing Center, the National Institute for Computational Science and the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, researchers from the University of Washington (UW) have uncovered previously unknown details of these fundamental processes of actins.

[Note: Jim Pfaendtnerwas of UW was funded by a National Science Foundation International Research Fellowship (grant OISE 07-00080) during this project.]

To learn more about this research, see the TeraGrid Science Highlights 2010 story, "When Cellular Bones Soften," on page 14 Here. (Date of Image: 2009-20010)

Credit: Courtesy Jim Pfaendtner, Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Washington, and Gregory Voth, Department of Chemistry, The University of Chicago

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